Town and county in support of PARCS fundraising

The town and county of Ponoka offer financial support for in-depth design

A non-profit society’s presentation for funding of a new recreational facility has spurred a contribution from Ponoka County.

The Ponoka Arts, Recreation and Culture Society (PARCS) representatives Bruce Clarke and Justin Kelly made a presentation to both the town and county of Ponoka councils Dec. 12 during their meetings.

PARCS had been hoping for matching dollars from the county for the funds it will raise — estimated to be as much as $150,000 annually — to get the proposed wellness centre constructed.

“We see this as a great opportunity for both the county and the town to be part of something big,” Kelly told the county.

Instead though, county council approved a motion that would match any contribution from the Town of Ponoka toward developing the engineered detailed design for the new recreational facility.

Reeve Paul McLauchlin lauded PARCS for its idea to become an additional funder for such a project, which has an estimated cost of $15 million. However, he had trouble with the open-ended idea of matching money in an account for a project no one can really grasp yet.

“If the ask is more tangible, say to support an as-built design for engineering for this specific project, then that might be something I and maybe council could support,” he said.

“And, if we push it along, that might also help us deal with the next ask to get it built.”

McLauchlin added that the provincial and federal governments are expected to sign a deal on infrastructure funding by March with funds going specifically to projects such as what is proposed in Ponoka.

“Funds will flow for these kinds of projects on a 40/40/20 per cent split and your goal would be to secure that 20 per cent municipal portion. And, I actually like this idea as it shows the community support for it and I think you might be onto something here,” he said.

“If you could secure that 20 per cent, it would pull you in the queue (for those infrastructure funding) and this project would stand a better chance of getting those dollars. They have said they want money to flow into rural Alberta and this project fits in with that thinking.”

“Without knowing the numbers to get a bid package together or to get it to the tendering stage, I would suggest that to give them some encouragement that there is a commitment, we look at matching any contribution the town makes toward getting this project to that stage,” said Cutforth.

PARCS also requested to be put on the Ponoka Golf Club fundraising schedule, which was approved unanimously by the board. The Ponoka Golf Club’s board was excited, added Clarke because it saw that PARCS’ goal is there to benefit the community.

The club’s board set a precedent by giving PARCS its own day, annually, to help with its fundraising goals, which Clarke calls brick and mortar projects. In this case the goal is to raise money for the proposed community wellness centre, which sees an expanded arena.

Currently PARCS has $30,000 in its account.

McLauchlin also said a joint project would be well received and that Alberta’s infrastructure minister is also interested in these types of projects, plus the society’s funding model is another level of innovation which adds value to the idea.

However, there was some question if the project would be at a stage where an application could be successful. That’s when CAO Charlie Cutforth suggested projects that are shovel-ready stand a better chance of approval, but wanted to know where this project was at, since the county did have some idea of the concept previously.

Neither Clarke or Kelly were certain, but thought it was close to the point where engineered drawings could be started.

At the town meeting, councillors were uncertain as to how ready the project should be. “They did say in that letter that no project should be started prior to the funding,” said Mayor Rick Bonnett.

He worried that having full engineering drawings done up would be starting the project. Bonnett says they have to wait until March when the federal government explains how the granting will work.

Town of Ponoka council also approved a motion to support PARCS’ plan.

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